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IKEA to Roll Out Hackable Furniture in 2018

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DIY enthusiasts will soon have a new reason to shop at IKEA. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the beloved chain is developing a new line of “open source” furniture that’s set to hit shelves early next year.

Delaktig, which means “being part of something” in Swedish, is a platform that’s meant to be built upon and customized—something many customers have been doing on their own with the store’s existing products. Instead of buying a complete piece of furniture and taking it apart, shoppers will soon be able to purchase a simple unit that provides lots of room for modification.

The initial flat-pack product IKEA plans to release will be an aluminum profile with cushioning supported by wooden slats. The piece makes for a simple bed or sofa, and it can be upgraded with armrests, side tables, reading lamps, crib walls, or anything else that owners can secure to the frame. It’s made to work with standard bolt heads, so add-ons from IKEA or elsewhere can be attached easily.

“This project is not only about design, but equally about exploring materials and challenging traditional ways of production to redefine the concept of comfort,” IKEA said in a news release from last year. The Delaktig furniture will retail for between $400 and $900 when it goes on sale at the beginning of 2018. If you can’t wait that long to start your next home project, there are plenty of creative IKEA hacks you can use with what’s already in their inventory.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]

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Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animal that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
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Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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